by Steve Kangas
The wealthy have always used many
methods to accumulate wealth, but it was not until the mid-1970s
these methods coalesced into a superbly organized, cohesive and
efficient machine. After 1975, it became greater than the sum of its
parts, a smooth flowing organization of advocacy groups, lobbyists,
think tanks, conservative foundations, and PR firms that hurtled the
richest 1 percent into the stratosphere.
The origins of this machine, interestingly enough, can be traced
back to the CIA. This is not to say the machine is a formal CIA
operation, complete with code name and signed documents. (Although
such evidence may yet surface — and previously unthinkable domestic
operations such as
MK-ULTRA, CHAOS and MOCKINGBIRD show this to be a
But what we do know already indicts the
CIA strongly enough. Its principle creators were,
Richard Mellon Scaife
William F. Buckley, Jr.
the Rockefeller family
Almost all the machine's creators had
During the 1970s, these men would take the propaganda and
operational techniques they had learned in the Cold War and apply
them to the Class War. Therefore it is no surprise that the American
version of the machine bears an uncanny resemblance to the foreign
versions designed to fight communism.
The CIA's expert and comprehensive
organization of the business class would succeed beyond their
wildest dreams. In 1975, the richest 1 percent owned 22 percent of
America’s wealth. By 1992, they would nearly double that, to 42
percent — the highest level of inequality in the 20th century.
How did this
The CIA has always recruited the
nation’s elite: millionaire businessmen, Wall Street brokers,
members of the national news media, and Ivy League scholars. During
World War II, General "Wild Bill" Donovan became chief of the
of Strategic Services (OSS), the forerunner of the CIA. Donovan
recruited so exclusively from the nation’s rich and powerful that
members eventually came to joke that "OSS" stood for "Oh, so
Another early elite was Allen Dulles, who served as Director of the
CIA from 1953 to 1961. Dulles was a senior partner at the Wall
Street firm of Sullivan and Cromwell, which represented
Rockefeller empire and other mammoth trusts, corporations and
cartels. He was also a board member of the J. Henry Schroeder Bank,
with offices in Wall Street, London, Zurich and Hamburg. His
financial interests across the world would become a conflict of
interest when he became head of the CIA. Like Donavan, he would
recruit exclusively from society’s elite.
By the 1950s, the CIA had riddled the nation’s businesses, media and
universities with tens of thousands of part-time, on-call
operatives. Their employment with the agency took a variety of
forms, which included:
Leaving one's profession to work
for the CIA in a formal, official capacity.
Staying in one's profession,
using the job as cover for CIA activity. This undercover
activity could be full-time, part-time, or on-call.
Staying in one's profession,
occasionally passing along information useful to the CIA.
Passing through the revolving
door that has always existed between the agency and the
Historically, the CIA and society’s
elite have been one and the same people. This means that their
interests and goals are one and the same as well. Perhaps the most
frequent description of the intelligence community is the "old boy
network," where members socialize, talk shop, conduct business and
tap each other for favors well outside the formal halls of
Many common traits made it inevitable that the CIA and Corporate
America would become allies. Both share an intense dislike of
democracy, and feel they should be liberated from democratic
regulations and oversight. Both share a culture of secrecy, either
hiding their actions from the American public or lying about them to
present the best public image. And both are in a perfect position to
help each other.
How? International businesses give CIA agents cover, secret funding,
top-quality resources and important contacts in foreign lands. In
return, the CIA gives corporations billion-dollar federal contracts
(for spy planes, satellites and other hi-tech spycraft). Businessmen
also enjoy the romantic thrill of participating in spy operations.
The CIA also gives businesses a certain
amount of protection and privacy from the media and government
watchdogs, under the guise of "national security." Finally, the CIA
helps American corporations remain dominant in foreign markets, by
overthrowing governments hostile to unregulated capitalism and
installing puppet regimes whose policies favor American corporations
at the expense of their people.
The CIA’s alliance with the elite turned out to be an unholy one.
Each enabled the other to rise above the law. Indeed, a review of
the CIA’s history is one of such crime and atrocity that no one can
reasonably defend it, even in the name of anticommunism. Before
reviewing this alliance in detail, it is useful to know the CIA’s
history of atrocity first.
The Crimes of
During World War II, the OSS actively engaged in propaganda,
sabotage and countless other dirty tricks. After the war, and even
after the CIA was created in 1947, the American intelligence
community reverted to harmless information gathering and analysis,
thinking that the danger to national security had passed.
That changed in 1948 with the emergence
of the Cold War. In that year, the CIA recreated its covert action
wing, innocuously called the Office of Policy Coordination. Its
first director was Wall Street lawyer Frank Wisner.
According to its secret charter, its
propaganda, economic warfare,
preventive direct action, including sabotage, antisabotage,
demolition and evacuation procedures; subversion against hostile
states, including assistance to underground resistance groups,
and support of indigenous anti-communist elements in threatened
countries of the free world.
By 1953, the dirty tricks department of
the CIA had grown to 7,200 personnel and commanded 74 percent of the
CIA’s total budget. The following quotes describe the culture of
lawlessness that pervaded the CIA:
Stanley Lovell, a CIA recruiter for
"Wild Bill" Donovan:
"What I have to do is to stimulate the
Peck's Bad Boy beneath the surface of every American scientist
and say to him, 'Throw all your normal law-abiding concepts out
the window. Here's a chance to raise merry hell. Come help me
raise it.'" (1)
George Hunter White, writing of his CIA escapades:
wholeheartedly in the vineyards because it was fun, fun, fun...
Where else could a red-blooded American boy lie, kill, cheat,
steal, rape and pillage with the sanction and blessing of the
A retired CIA agency caseworker with twenty years experience:
never gave a thought to legality or morality. Frankly, I did
Blessed with secrecy and lack of
congressional oversight, CIA operations became corrupt almost
immediately. Using propaganda stations like Voice of America and
Radio Free Europe, the CIA felt justified in manipulating the public
for its own good. The broadcasts were so patently false that for a
time it was illegal to publish transcripts of them in the U.S. This
was a classic case of a powerful organization deciding what was best
for the people, and then abusing the powers it had helped itself to.
During the 40s and 50s, most of the public was unaware of what the
CIA was doing. Those who knew thought they were fighting the good
fight against communism, like James Bond. However, they could not
keep their actions secret forever, and by the 60s and 70s, Americans
began learning about the agency’s crimes and atrocities. (3)
It turns out the CIA has:
Corrupted democratic elections
in Greece, Italy and dozens of other nations
Been involved to varying degrees
in at least 35 assassination plots against foreign heads of
state or prominent political leaders. Successful
assassinations include democratically elected leaders like
Salvador Allende (Chile) and Patrice Lumumba (Belgian
Congo); also CIA-created dictators like Rafael Trujillo
(Dominican Republic) and Ngo Dinh Diem (South Vietnam); and
popular political leaders like Che Guevara. Unsuccessful
attempts range from Fidel Castro to Charles De Gaulle.
Helped launch military coups
that toppled democratic governments, replacing them with
brutal dictatorships or juntas. The list of overthrown
democratic leaders includes
Mossadegh (Iran, 1953)
Velasco and Arosemena (Ecuador, 1961,
Bosch (Dominican Republic, 1963)
Sukarno (Indonesia, 1965)
Allende (Chile, 1973)
and dozens of others...
Undermined the governments of
Australia, Guyana, Cambodia, Jamaica and more;
Supported murderous dictators
General Pinochet (Chile)
the Shah of Iran
"Papa Doc" and "Baby Doc" Duvalier
General Noriega (Panama)
Mobutu Sese Seko (Ziare)
the "reign of the colonels"
Created, trained and supported
death squads and secret police forces that tortured and
murdered hundreds of thousands of civilians, leftists and
political opponents, in
Helped run the "School of the
Americas" at Fort Benning, Georgia, which
trains Latin American military officers how to overthrow
democratic governments. Subjects include the use of torture,
interrogation and murder
Used Michigan State "professors"
to train Diem’s secret police in torture
Conducted economic sabotage,
including ruining crops, disrupting industry, sinking ships
and creating food shortages
Paved the way for the massacre
of 200,000 in East Timor, 500,000 in Indonesia and one to
two million in Cambodia
Launched secret or illegal
military actions or wars in Nicaragua, Angola, Cuba, Laos
Planted false stories in the
Framed political opponents for
crimes, atrocities, political statements and embarrassments
that they did not commit
Spied on thousands of American
citizens, in defiance of Congressional law
Smuggled Nazi war criminals and
weapon scientists into the U.S., unpunished, for their use
in the Cold War
Created organizations like the
World Anti-Communist League, which became filled with
ex-Nazis, Nazi sympathizers, Italian terrorists, Japanese
fascists, racist Afrikaaners, Latin American death squad
leaders, CIA agents and other extreme right-wing militants
Operation MK-ULTRA, a mind-control
experiment that gave LSD and other drugs to
Americans against their will or without their knowledge,
causing some to commit suicide
Penetrated and disrupted student
Kept friendly and extensive
working relations with the Mafia
Actively traded in drugs around
the world since the 1950s to fund its operations. The
Contra/crack scandal is only the tip of the iceberg –- other
notorious examples include Southeast Asia’s Golden Triangle
and Noreiga’s Panama
Had their fingerprints all over
the assassinations of John F. Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy,
Martin Luther King, Jr., and Malcom X. Even if the CIA is
not responsible for these killings, the sheer amount of CIA
involvement in these cases demands answers
And then routinely lied to
Congress about all of the above
The Association for Responsible Dissent
estimates that by 1987, 6 million people had died as a result of CIA
covert operations. (4) Former State Department official William Blum
correctly calls this an "American Holocaust."
We should note that the CIA gets away with this because it is not
accountable to democratic government. Former CIA officer Philip Agee
put it best: "The CIA is the President's secret army." Prior to
1975, the agency answered only to the President (creating all the
usual problems of authoritarianism).
And because the CIA’s activities were
secret, the President rarely had to worry about public criticism and
pressure. After the 1975 Church hearings, Congress tried to create
congressional oversight of the CIA, but this has failed miserably.
One reason is that the congressional oversight committee is a sham,
filled with Cold Warriors, conservatives, businessmen, and even
Origins of CIA Crimes
Although many people think that the CIA’s primary mission during the
Cold War was to "deter communism," Noam Chomksy correctly points out
that its real mission was "deterring democracy." From corrupting
elections to overthrowing democratic governments, from assassinating
elected leaders to installing murderous dictators, the CIA has
virtually always replaced democracy with dictatorship. It didn’t
help that the CIA was run by businessmen, whose hostility towards
democracy is legendary.
The reason they overthrew so many
democracies is because the people usually voted for policies that
multi-national corporations didn't like: land reform, strong labor
unions, nationalization of their industries, and greater regulation
protecting workers, consumers and the environment.
So the CIA’s greatest "successes" were usually more pro-corporate
than anti-communist. Citing a communist threat, the CIA helped
overthrow the democratically elected Mohammed Mussadegh government
in Iran in 1953. But there was no communist threat — the Soviets
stood back and watched the coup from afar.
What really happened was that Mussadegh
threatened to nationalize British and American oil companies in
Iran. Consequently, the CIA and MI6 toppled Mussadegh and replaced
him with a puppet government, headed by the Shah of Iran and his
murderous secret police, SAVAK. The reason why the Ayatollah
Khomeini and his revolutionaries took 52 Americans hostage in Tehran
in 1979 was because the CIA had helped SAVAK torture and murder
Another "success" was the CIA’s overthrow of the democratically
elected government of Jacabo Arbenz in Guatemala in 1954. Again,
there was no communist threat. The real threat was to Guatemala’s
United Fruit Company, a Rockefeller-owned firm whose stockholders
included CIA Director Allen Dulles.
Arbenz threatened to nationalize the
company, albeit with generous compensation. In response, the CIA
initiated a coup that overthrew Arbenz and installed the murderous
dictator Castillo Armas. For four decades, CIA-backed
would torture and murder hundreds of thousands of leftists, union
members and others who would fight for a more equitable distribution
of the country’s resources.
Another "success" story was Chile. In 1973, the country’s
democratically elected leader, Salvador Allende, nationalized
foreign-owned interests, like Chile’s lucrative copper mines and
telephone system. International Telephone & Telegraph (ITT) offered
the CIA $1 million to overthrow Allende — which the CIA allegedly
refused — but paid $350,000 to his political opponents.
The CIA responded with a coup that
murdered Allende and replaced him with a brutal tyrant, General
Augusto Pinochet. Pinochet tortured and murdered thousands of
leftists, union members and political opponents as economists
trained at the University of Chicago under Milton Friedman installed
a "free market" economy. Since then, income inequality has soared
higher in Chile than anywhere else in Latin America.
Even when the communist threat was real, the CIA first and foremost
took care of the elite. In testimony before Congress in the early
50s, it artificially inflated Soviet military capabilities. A
notorious example was the "bomber gap" that later turned out to be
grossly exaggerated. Another was "Team B," a group of hawkish CIA
analysts who seriously distorted Soviet military data. These scare
tactics worked. Congress awarded giant defense contracts to the U.S.
And not even the fall of the Soviet Union and the demise of American
defense contracts have stopped the CIA from serving the elite.
Journalist Robert Dreyfuss writes:
Since the end of the Cold War,
Washington has been abuzz with talk about using the CIA for
economic espionage. Stripped of euphemism, economic espionage
simply means that American spies would target foreign companies,
such as Toyota, Nissan and Honda, and then covertly pass stolen
trade secrets and technology to U.S. corporate executives. (5)
If this isn’t bad enough, a worse
problem arises in that the CIA doesn’t hand over this technology to
every American auto-related company, but only the Big Three: Ford,
Chrysler and General Motors.
In a 1975 interview, Ex-CIA agent Philip
Agee summed up his personal observations of the agency:
To the people who work for it, the
CIA is known as The Company. The Big Business mentality pervades
everything. Agents, for instance, are called assets. The man in
charge of the United Kingdom desk is said to have the "U.K.
American multinational corporations have
built up colossal interests all over the world, and you can bet your
ass that wherever you find U. S. business interests, you also find
the CIA… The multinational corporations want a peaceful status quo
in countries where they have investments, because that gives them
undisturbed access to cheap raw materials, cheap labor and stable
markets for their finished goods.
The status quo suits bankers, because
their money remains secure and multiplies. And, of course, the
status quo suits the small ruling groups the CIA supports abroad,
because all they want is to keep themselves on top of the
socioeconomic pyramid and the majority of their people on the
bottom. But do you realize what being on the bottom means in most
parts of the world?
Ignorance, poverty, often early death by
starvation or disease…
Remember, the CIA is an instrument of the President; it only carries
out policy. And, like everyone else, the President has to respond to
forces in the society he's trying to lead, right? In America, the
most powerful force is Big Business, and American Big Business has a
vested interest in the Cold War. (6)
The CIA had no trouble recruiting elites who sought a more exciting
life. Between 1948 and 1959, more than 40,000 American individuals
and companies acted as sources for the U.S. intelligence community.
(7) Let’s look at each area of recruitment, and see how they enabled
the CIA to conduct its crimes:
The CIA co-opted big business right from the start, beginning
with the most famous billionaire of the time: Howard Hughes.
Hughes had inherited his father’s million-dollar tool and die
company at age 19. Anxious to expand his fortune, he made a
conscientious decision "to go where the money is" — namely,
government. With a few well-placed bribes, Hughes secured
defense contracts to build military planes.
The result was the Hughes Aircraft
company. By 1940, he had also acquired a controlling interest in
Trans World Airlines. His government connections and
international airline soon caught the attention of the CIA, and
the two began a lifelong relationship. Hughes, whom the CIA
dubbed "The Stockbroker," became the agency’s largest
Not only did he let the CIA use his
business firms as fronts, but he also funded countless CIA
operations. Perhaps the most notorious was Operation Jennifer,
an allegedly failed attempt to recover nuclear codes from a
sunken Soviet submarine. Hughes’ right-hand security man, Robert Maheu, was a CIA agent who at one time represented the CIA in
negotiations with the Mafia to assassinate Fidel Castro.
The CIA’s contacts with big business quickly spread. The agency
showed a preference for international companies, public
relations firms, media companies, law offices, banks, financiers
and stockbrokers. The CIA didn’t limit its activities to
recruiting businessmen; sometimes the CIA bought or created
entire companies outright.
One benefit of co-opting big
business was that the CIA was able to create a secret source of
funds other than from government. With stock portfolios
multiplying their profits, it’s impossible now to say how flush
the CIA really is. If Congress ever cut off funds for a mission,
the business fraternity could easily replace them, either by
donations or even setting up profitable businesses in the target
country. In fact, this is precisely what happened during the
By allying itself with the business community, the CIA received
the funds and ability it needed to remove itself from democratic
Journalism is a perfect cover for CIA agents. People talk freely
to journalists, and few think suspiciously of a journalist
aggressively searching for information. Journalists also have
power, influence and clout. Not surprisingly, the CIA began a
mission in the late 1940s to recruit American journalists on a
wide scale, a mission it dubbed Operation MOCKINGBIRD. The
agency wanted these journalists not only to relay any sensitive
information they discovered, but also to write anti-communist,
pro-capitalist propaganda when needed.
The instigators of MOCKINGBIRD were Frank Wisner, Allan Dulles,
Richard Helms and Philip Graham. Graham was the husband of
Katherine Graham, today’s publisher of the Washington Post. In
fact, it was the Post’s ties to the CIA that allowed it to grow
so quickly after the war, both in readership and influence. (8)
MOCKINGBIRD was extraordinarily successful. In no time, the
agency had recruited at least 25 media organizations to
disseminate CIA propaganda. At least 400 journalists would
eventually join the CIA payroll, according to the CIA’s
testimony before a stunned Church Committee in 1975. (The
committee felt the true number was considerably higher.)
The names of those recruited reads
like a Who's Who of journalism:
Philip and Katharine Graham
(Publishers, Washington Post)
William Paley (President,
Henry Luce (Publisher, Time
and Life magazine)
Arthur Hays Sulzberger
(Publisher, N.Y. Times)
Jerry O'Leary (Washington
Hal Hendrix (Pulitzer Prize
winner, Miami News)
Barry Bingham Sr.,
James Copley (Copley News
Joseph Harrison (Editor,
Christian Science Monitor)
C.D. Jackson (Fortune)
Walter Pincus (Reporter,
United Press International
Mutual Broadcasting System
Old Saturday Evening Post
New York Herald-Tribune
Perhaps no newspaper is more
important to the CIA than the Washington Post, one of the
nation’s most right-wing dailies. Its location in the nation’s
capitol enables the paper to maintain valuable personal contacts
with leading intelligence, political and business figures.
Unlike other newspapers, the Post
operates its own bureaus around the world, rather than relying
on AP wire services. Owner Philip Graham was a military
intelligence officer in World War II, and later became close
friends with CIA figures like Frank Wisner, Allen Dulles,
Desmond FitzGerald and Richard Helms. He inherited the Post by
marrying Katherine Graham, whose father owned it.
After Philip’s suicide in 1963, Katharine Graham took over the
Post. Seduced by her husband’s world of government and
espionage, she expanded her newspaper’s relationship with the
CIA. In a 1988 speech before CIA officials at Langley, Virginia,
We live in a dirty and dangerous
world. There are some things that the general public does
not need to know and shouldn’t. I believe democracy
flourishes when the government can take legitimate steps to
keep its secrets and when the press can decide whether to
print what it knows.
This quote has since become a
classic among CIA critics for its belittlement of democracy and
its admission that there is a political agenda behind the Post’s
Ben Bradlee was the Post’s managing editor during most of the
Cold War. He worked in the U.S. Paris embassy from 1951 to 1953,
where he followed orders by the CIA station chief to place
propaganda in the European press. (9)
Most Americans incorrectly believe
that Bradlee personifies the liberal slant of the Post, given
his role in publishing the Pentagon Papers and the Watergate
investigations. But neither of these two incidents are what they
seem. The Post merely published the Pentagon Papers after The
New York Times already had, because it wanted to appear
As for Watergate, we’ll examine the
CIA’s reasons for wanting to bring down Nixon in a moment.
Someone once asked Bradlee:
"Does it irk you when The
Washington Post is made out to be a bastion of slanted
liberal thinkers instead of champion journalists just
because of Watergate?" Bradlee responded: "Damn right it
It would be impossible to elaborate
in this short space even the most important examples of the
CIA/media alliance. Sig Mickelson was a CIA asset the entire
time he was president of CBS News from 1954 to 1961. Later he
went on to become president of Radio Free Europe and Radio
Liberty, two major outlets of CIA propaganda.
The CIA also secretly bought or created its own media companies.
It owned 40 percent of the Rome Daily American at a time when
communists were threatening to win the Italian elections. Worse,
the CIA has bought many domestic media companies.
A prime example is Capital Cities,
created in 1954 by CIA businessman William Casey (who would
later become Reagan’s CIA director). Another founder was Lowell
Thomas, a close friend and business contact with CIA Director
Allen Dulles. Another founder was CIA businessman Thomas Dewey.
By 1985, Capital Cities had grown so powerful that it was able
to buy an entire TV network: ABC.
For those who believe in "separation of press and state," the
very idea that the CIA has secret propaganda outlets throughout
the media is appalling. The reason why America was so oblivious
to CIA crimes in the 40s and 50s was because the media willingly
complied with the agency. Even today, when the immorality of the
CIA should be an open-and-shut case, "debate" about the issue
rages in the media. Here is but one example:
In 1996, The San Jose Mercury News published an investigative
report suggesting that the CIA had sold crack in Los Angeles to
fund the Contra war in Central America.
A month later, three of the CIA’s
most important media allies — The Washington Post, The New York
Times and The Los Angeles Times — immediately leveled their guns
at the Mercury report and blasted away in an attempt to
discredit it. Who wrote the Post article? Walter Pincus,
longtime CIA journalist. The dangers here are obvious.
By the early 50s, CIA Director Allen Dulles had staffed the CIA
almost exclusively with Ivy League graduates, especially from
Yale. (A disproportionate number of CIA figures, like George
Bush, come from Yale’s "Skull and
CIA recruiters also approached
thousands of other professors to work in place at their
universities on a part-time, contract basis. Not stopping at
recruiting scholars, the agency would go on to create several
departments at elite universities, including Harvard's Russian
Research Center and the Center for International Studies at MIT.
Although most academics were supportive of the CIA in the 50s,
most were unaware of its abuses. In the 60s, academia would
become outraged to learn that anti-communist organizations like
the National Student Association were actually creations of the
CIA. The most audacious CIA front was the Congress for Cultural
Freedom, an organization that attracted liberal, freethinking
artists and intellectuals who nonetheless deplored communism.
By the late 60s and 70s, growing reports of CIA crimes and
atrocities had deeply alienated academia. Scholars were further
troubled to learn that the CIA had penetrated and disrupted
student antiwar groups. Unlike business and the media, academia
overwhelmingly denounced the CIA after the Vietnam era. This
eventually forced the CIA to turn to new places to find their
analysts and scholars. The most important source was the
conservative think-tank movement, which it helped to create.
More on this later.
The Roman Catholic Church
Although the CIA began as a mostly Protestant organization,
Roman Catholics quickly came to dominate the new covert-action
wing in 1948. All were staunchly conservative, fiercely
anti-communist and socially elite. Just a few of the many
Catholic operatives included future CIA directors William Colby,
William Casey, and John McCone.
Another well-known personality from
this period was William F. Buckley, Jr., editor of the National
Review and gadfly host of TV’s Firing Line. Buckley, it turns
out, served as a CIA agent in Mexico City, and his experiences
there served as fodder for his Blackford Oakes spy novels.
There were several reasons for this influx of Catholic elites.
First, Wisner (himself a Wall Street lawyer) had an extensive
and glamorous circle of friends to recruit from. Second, Italy
was in constant crisis in the 1940s, both during World War II
and after. Throughout this troubled period, the American
intelligence community’s greatest ally in Italy was the Roman
The Roman Catholic Church, of course, is one of the most
anti-communist organizations in the world. The Marxist doctrine
of atheism threatens Catholic theology, and its equality
threatens the Church’s strict tradition of hierarchy and
authoritarianism. When Hitler invaded Communist Russia, the
Vatican openly approved.
Jesuit Michael Serafian wrote:
"It cannot be denied that [Pope]
Pius XII's closest advisors for some time regarded Hitler's
armoured divisions as the right hand of God." (11)
But Hitler persecuted Catholics as
well, and ultimately drove the Church to the Americans. In 1943,
the Vatican reached a secret agreement with OSS Chief Donovan —
himself a devout Catholic — to let the Holy See become the
center of Allied spy operations in Italy. Donovan considered the
Church to be one of his prize intelligence assets, given its
global power, membership and contacts. He cultivated this
alliance by sending America’s most prestigious Catholics to the
Vatican to establish rapport and forge an alliance.
After the war, half of Europe lay under Communist control, and
the Italian communist party threatened to win the 1948
elections. The prospect of communism ruling over the heart of
Catholicism terrified the Vatican. Once again, American
intelligence gathered their most prestigious Catholics to
strengthen ties with
the Vatican. Because this was the first
mission of the new covert action division, the American Catholic
agents acquired positions of power early on, and would dominate
covert operations for the rest of the Cold War.
At a public level, the U.S. government sunk $350 million in
social and military aid into Italy to sway the vote. On a secret
level, Wisner spent $10 million in black budget funds to steal
the elections. This included disseminating propaganda, beating
up left-wing politicians, intimidating voters and disrupting
leftist parties. The dirty tricks worked — the Communists lost,
and the Catholic Americans’ success permanently secured their
power within the CIA.
The Knights of Malta
The Roman Catholic Church did not forget the American agents who
had saved them from both Nazism and Communism. It rewarded them
by making them Knights of Malta, or members of the
Sovereign Military Order of Malta
SMOM is one of the oldest and most elite religious orders in the
Catholic Church. Until recently, it limited its membership to
Italians and foreign heads of state. In 1927, however, an
exception was made for the United States, given its emerging
status as a world power.
SMOM opened an American branch,
awarding knighthood or damehood to several American Catholic
business tycoons. This group was so conservative that one, John Raskob, the Chairman of General Motors, actually became involved
in an aborted military plot to remove Franklin Roosevelt from
the White House. SMOM has also been embarrassed by knighting or
giving awards to countless people who later turned out to be
Nazi war criminals.
This is the sort of culture that
thrives within the leadership of SMOM.
Officially, the Knights of Malta are a global charity
organization. But beginning in the 1940s, knighthood was granted
to countless CIA agents, and the organization has become a front
for intelligence operations. SMOM is ideal for this kind of
activity, because it is recognized as the world’s only landless
sovereignty, and members enjoy diplomatic immunity.
This allows agents and supplies to
pass through customs without interference from the host country.
Such privileges enabled the Knights of Malta to become a major
supplier of "humanitarian aid" to the Contras during their war
in the 1980s.
A partial list of the Knights and Dames of Malta
reads like a Who’s Who of American Catholicism:
William Casey – CIA Director.
John McCone – CIA Director.
William Colby – CIA Director.
William Donovan – OSS Director.
Donovan was given an especially prestigious form of
knighthood that has only been given to a hundred other men
Frank Shakespeare – Director of
such propaganda organizations as the U.S. Information
Agency, Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty. Also executive
vice-president of CBS-TV and vice-chairman of RKO General
Inc. He is currently chairman of the board of trustees at
the Heritage Foundation, a right-wing think tank.
William Simon – Treasury
Secretary under President Nixon. In the private sector, he
has become one of America’s 400 richest individuals by
working in international finance. Today he is the President
of the John M. Olin Foundation, a major funder of right-wing
William F. Buckley, Jr. – CIA
agent, conservative pundit and mass media personality.
James Buckley – William’s
brother, head of Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty.
Clare Boothe Luce - The grand
dame of the Cold War was also a Dame of Malta. She was a
popular playwright and the wife of the publishing tycoon
Henry Luce, who cofounded Time magazine.
Francis X Stankard - CEO of the
international division of Chase Manhattan Bank, a
Rockefeller institution. (Nelson Rockefeller was also a
major CIA figure.)
John Farrell – President, U.S.
Lee Iacocca – Chairman, General
William S. Schreyer – Chairman,
Richard R. Shinn – Chairman,
Metropolitan Life Insurance Company.
Joseph Kennedy – Founder of the
Baron Hilton – Owner, Hilton
Patrick J. Frawley Jr. – Heir,
Schick razor fortune. Frawley is a famous funder of
right-wing Catholic causes, such as the Christian
Ralph Abplanalp - Aerosol
Martin F. Shea - Executive vice
president of Morgan Guaranty Trust.
Joseph Brennan - Chairman of the
executive committee of the Emigrant Savings Bank of New
J. Peter Grace – President, W.R.
Grace Company. He was a key figure in Operation Paperclip,
which brought Nazi scientists and spies to the U.S. Many
were war criminals whose atrocities were excused in their
service to the CIA.
Thomas Bolan – Of Saxe, Bacon
and Bolan, the law firm of Senator McCarthy's deceased aide
Bowie Kuhn – Baseball
Cardinal John O'Connor – Extreme
right-wing leader among American Catholics, and fervent
Cardinal Francis Spellman – The
"American Pope" was at one time the most powerful Catholic
in America, an arch-conservative and a rabid anti-communist.
Cardinal Bernard Law - One of
the highest-ranking conservatives in the American church.
Alexander Haig – Secretary of
State under President Reagan.
Admiral James D. Watkins –
Hard-line chief of naval operations under President Reagan.
Jeremy Denton – Senator (R–Al).
Pete Domenici – Senator (R-New
Walter J. Hickel - Governor of
Alaska and secretary of the interior.
When this group gets together,
obviously, the topics are spying, business and politics.
The CIA has also used other religious and charity organizations
as fronts. For example, John F. Kennedy -- another anticommunist
Roman Catholic who greatly expanded covert operations -- created
the U.S. Peace Corps to serve as cover for CIA operatives. The
CIA has also made extensive use of missionaries, with the
blessings of many right-wing, anticommunist Christian
But the World Grows
It was only a matter of time before other nations caught on to these
fronts. They learned that when the CIA comes to their countries to
commit their crimes and atrocities, they come disguised as American
journalists, businessmen, missionaries and
Unfortunately, foreigners are now
targeting these professions as hostile. In Lebanon, terrorists held
U.S. journalist Terry Anderson hostage for nearly seven years, on
the not unreasonable assumption that he was a spy. Whether or not
this was true is beside the point.
The CIA has put all Americans
abroad at risk, whether they are CIA agents or not. In hearings
before the Senate in 1996, many organizations urged Congress to stop
using their professions as CIA cover. Don Argue of the
National Association of Evangelicals testified:
"Such use of missionary agents for
covert activities by the CIA would be unethical and immoral."
From the Cold
War to the Class War
As noted above, academia was the first major institution to denounce
the crimes of the CIA. Why? One reason is that scholars conduct
their own extensive research into world affairs, so naturally they
were the first to learn the truth. This is the main reason why
protest against the Vietnam War and the CIA erupted first among
students on the nation’s campuses. By the end of the Vietnam War,
the CIA had suffered a "brain drain" as its academic allies became
its most articulate, passionate and eloquent critics.
The social revolutions of the 60s terrified the CIA. James Jesus
Angleton, chief of counter-intelligence and a truly paranoid man,
was convinced the Soviets had masterminded the entire antiwar
movement. FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover shared his conviction. The
CIA had always spied on student groups throughout the 60s, but in
1968 President Johnson dramatically stepped up the effort with
This initially called for 50 CIA agents
to go undercover as student radicals, penetrate their antiwar
organizations and root out the Russian spies who were causing the
rebellion. Tellingly, they never found a single spy. The agents also
began a campaign of wire-tapping, mail-opening, burglary, deception,
intimidation and disruption against thousands of protesting American
By the time Operation CHAOS wound down in 1973, the CIA had spied on
7,000 Americans, 1,000 organizations and traded information on more
than 300,000 persons with various law agencies. (14) When academia
learned of this, its outrage grew.
The loss of academia was only the first blow for the CIA. Other
disasters quickly followed; in the early 70s, the CIA was trying
desperately to stave off a growing number of scandals. The first was
The CIA’s fingerprints were all over Watergate. First, we should
note the CIA had clear motives for helping oust Nixon. He was the
ultimate "outsider," a poor California Quaker who grew up feeling
bitter resentment towards the elite "Eastern establishment."
Nixon, for all his arch-conservatism,
was surprisingly liberal on economic issues, infuriating businessmen
with statements like "We are all Keynesians now." He created a whole
host of new agencies to regulate business, like the FDA, EPA and OSHA. He signed the
Clean Air and Clean Water Acts, which forced
businesses to clean up their toxic emissions. He imposed price
controls to fight inflation, and took the nation fully off the gold
standard. Nixon also strengthened affirmative action.
Even his staffers were famously
anti-elitist, like Kevin Philips, who would eventually write the
bible on inequality during the 1980s,
The Politics of Rich and Poor.
Add to this Nixon’s withdrawal from Vietnam and Détente with China
and the Soviet Union. Nixon and his Secretary of State, Henry
Kissinger, had not only tried to remove control of foreign policy
from the CIA, but had also taken measures to bring the CIA itself
Not surprisingly, Nixon and his CIA
Director, Richard Helms, couldn’t stand each other. (Nixon fired him
for failing to cover up for Watergate.) Clearly, Nixon was fighting
at cross-purposes with the CIA and the nation’s elite.
As it turns out, the CIA had inside knowledge of Nixon’s dirty work.
Nixon had created his own covert action team, "The Committee to
Reelect the President," more amusingly known by its acronym, CREEP.
The team consisted of two CIA agents — E. Howard Hunt and James
McCord — as well as former FBI agent G. Gordon Liddy. They also
employed four Cubans with long CIA histories. In fact, a CIA front
called the Mullen Company funded their activities, which ranged from
disrupting Democratic campaigns to laundering Nixon’s illegal
The CIA not only had intimate knowledge of Nixon’s crimes, but it
also acted as though it wanted the world to know them. When the FBI
began investigating Watergate, Nixon tried using the CIA to cover up
for him. At first the CIA half-heartedly complied, telling the FBI
that the investigation would endanger CIA operations in Mexico. But
a few weeks later it gave the FBI a green light again to proceed
again with their investigation.
Furthermore, Watergate was exposed by the CIA’s main newspaper in
America, The Washington Post. One of the two journalists who
investigated the scandal, Robert Woodward, had only recently become
a journalist. Previously Woodward had worked as a Naval intelligence
liaison to the White House, privy to some of the nation’s highest
He would later write a sympathetic
portrait of CIA Director Bill Casey in a book entitled Veil: The
Secret Wars of the CIA. It was Woodward who personally knew and
interviewed "Deep Throat," the unnamed source who revealed inside
information on Nixon’s activities. Many Watergate researchers
consider one of Woodward’s old intelligence contacts to be a prime
candidate for Deep Throat. (15)
Despite all the facts of CIA involvement, Woodward and Bernstein
made virtually no mention of the CIA in their Watergate reporting.
Even during Senate hearings on Watergate, the CIA somehow managed to
stay out of the spotlight. In 1974, the House would clear the CIA of
any involvement in Watergate.
The CIA was not as lucky in 1974, when the Senate held hearings on
James Jesus Angleton’s illegal surveillance of American citizens.
These disclosures resulted in his firing. But that was nothing
compared to the 1975 Church Committee. This Senate investigation
looked into virtually every type of CIA crime, from assassination to
secret war to manipulating the domestic media.
The "reforms" that resulted from these
hearings were mostly cosmetic, but the details that emerged
shattered the CIA’s reputation forever. Interestingly enough, the
two Senators who held these hearings — Frank Church and Otis Pike —
were both defeated for reelection, despite a 98 percent reelection
rate for incumbents.
The CIA wasn’t the only conservative institution that found itself
embattled in the early 70s. This was a bad time for conservatives
everywhere. America had lost the war in Vietnam. U.S. corporations
had to cope with the rise of OPEC. The anti-poverty programs of
Roosevelt’s New Deal and Johnson’s Great Society were causing a
major redistribution of wealth.
And Nixon was making things worse with
his own anti-poverty and regulatory programs. Between 1960 and 1973,
these efforts cut poverty in half, from 22 to 11 percent. Meanwhile,
between 1965 and 1976, the richest 1 percent had gone from owning 37
percent of America’s wealth to only 22 percent. (16)
At a 1973 Conference Board meeting of top American business leaders,
"We are fighting for our lives," "We are
fighting a delaying action," and "If we don’t take action now, we
will see our own demise. We will evolve into another social
The CIA to the
In the mid-1970s, at this historic low point in American
conservatism, the CIA began a major campaign to turn corporate
They did this in several ways. First, they helped create numerous
foundations to finance their domestic operations. Even before 1973,
the CIA had co-opted the most famous ones, like the Ford,
Rockefeller and Carnegie Foundations. But after 1973, they created
more. One of their most notorious recruits was billionaire Richard
During World War II, Scaife's father
served in the OSS, the forerunner of the CIA. By his mid-twenties,
both of Scaife's parents had died, and he inherited a fortune under
four foundations: the Carthage Foundation, the Sarah Scaife
Foundation, the Scaife Family Foundations and the Allegheny
Foundation. In the early 1970s, Scaife was encouraged by CIA agent
Frank Barnett to begin investing his fortune to fight the "Soviet
From 1973 to 1975, Scaife ran Forum
World Features, a foreign news service used as a front to
disseminate CIA propaganda around the world. Shortly afterwards he
began donating millions to fund the New Right.
Scaife's CIA roots are typical of those who head the new
conservative foundations. By 1994 the most active were:
Lynde and Harry Bradley
Charles G. Koch
David H. Koch
Claude R. Lambe
Philip M. McKenna
John M. Olin Foundation
Henry Salvatori Foundation
Sarah Scaife Foundation
Smith Richardson Foundation
Between 1992 and 1994, these foundations
gave $210 million to conservative causes. Here is the breakdown of
$88.9 million for conservative
$79.2 million to enhance a
national infrastructure of think tanks and advocacy groups;
$16.3 million for alternative
media outlets and watchdog groups;
$10.5 million for conservative
pro-market law firms;
$9.3 million for regional and
state think tanks and advocacy groups;
$5.4 million to "organizations
working to transform the nations social views and giving
practices of the nation's religious and philanthropic
The political machine they built is
broad and comprehensive, covering every aspect of the political
fight. It includes right-wing departments and chairs in the nation’s
top universities, think tanks, public relations firms, media
companies, fake grassroots organizations that pressure Congress
(irreverently known as "Astroturf" movements), "Roll-out-the-vote"
machines, pollsters, fax networks, lobbyist organizations, economic
seminars for the nation’s judges, and more. And because corporations
are the richest sector of society, their greater financing
overwhelms similar efforts by Democrats.
Besides creating foundations, the CIA helped organize the business
community. There have always been special interest groups
representing business, like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the
National Association of Manufacturers, and the CIA has long been
involved with them.
However, after 1973, a spate of powerful
new groups would come into existence, like the Business Roundtable
and the Trilateral Commission. These organizations quickly became
powerhouses in promoting the business agenda.
Their efforts clearly succeeded. With the 1975 SUN-PAC decision,
corporations persuaded government to legalize corporate Political
Action Committees (the lobbyist organizations that bribe our
government). By 1992, corporations formed 67 percent of all PACs,
and they donated 79 percent of all campaign contributions to
political parties. (20)
In two landmark elections — 1980 and
1994 — corporations gave heavily and one-sidedly to Republicans,
turning one or both houses of Congress over to the GOP. Democratic
incumbents were shocked by the threat of being rolled completely out
of power, so they quietly shifted to the right on economic issues,
even though they continued a public façade of liberalism.
Corporations went ahead and donated to
Democratic incumbents in all other elections, but only as long as
they abandoned the interests of workers, consumers, minorities and
the poor. As expected, the new pro-corporate Congress passed laws
favoring the rich:
between 1975 and 1992, the amount of national
household wealth owned by the richest 1 percent soared from 22 to 42
The CIA also helped create the conservative think tank movement.
Prior to the 70s, think tanks spanned the political spectrum, with
moderate think tanks receiving three times as much funding as
conservative ones. At these early think tanks, scholars typically
brainstormed for creative solutions to policy problems. This would
all change after the rise of conservative foundations in the early
The Heritage Foundation opened its doors
in 1973, the recipient of $250,000 in seed money from the Coors
Foundation. A flood of conservative think tanks followed shortly
thereafter, and by 1980 they overwhelmed the scene. The new think
tanks turned out to be little more than propaganda mills, rigging
studies to "prove" that their corporate sponsors needed tax breaks,
deregulation and other favors from government.
Of course, think-tank studies are useless without publicity, and
here the CIA proved especially valuable. Using propaganda techniques
it had perfected at the Voice of America and Radio Free Europe, the
CIA and its allies turned American AM radio into a haven for
conservative talk show hosts. Yes — Rush Limbaugh uses the same
propaganda techniques that Muscovites once heard from Voice of
The CIA has also developed countless
other media outlets, like Capital Cities (which eventually bought
ABC), major PR firms like Hill & Knowlton, and of course, all the
Agency’s connections in the national news media. (22)
The following is a typical example of how the "New Media" operates.
As most political observers know, the Republicans suffer from a
"gender gap," in which women prefer Democrats by huge majorities.
This is, in fact, why Clinton has twice won the presidency. But,
curiously enough, as the 90s progressed, conservative female pundits
began popping up everywhere in the media.
Hard-right pundits like Ann Coulter,
Kellyanne Fitzpatrick, Laura Ingraham, Barbara Olson, Melinda Sidak,
Anita Blair and Whitney Adams conditioned us to the idea of the
conservative woman. This phenomenon was no accident. It turns out
that Richard Mellon Scaife donated $450,000 over three years to the
Independent Women's Forum, a booking agency that heavily seeds such
female conservative pundits into the media. (23)
The most obvious criticism of the New Overclass is that their
political machine is undemocratic. Using subversive techniques once
aimed at communists, and with all the money they ever need to
succeed, the Overclass undemocratically controls our government, our
media, and even a growing part of academia.
These institutions in turn allow the Overclass to control the supposedly "free" market. It doesn't win
all the time, of course — witness Bill Clinton's impeachment trial —
but it does score an endless string of other victories elsewhere,
all to the detriment of workers, consumers, women, minorities and
the poor. We need to fight it with everything we've got.
1. Mind Manipulators, Scheflin and
2. Captain George White in a letter to Dr. Sidney Gottlieb.
3. All history concerning CIA intervention in foreign countries
is summarized from William Blum’s encyclopedic work, Killing
Hope: U.S. Military and CIA Interventions since World War II
(Monroe, Maine: Common Courage Press, 1995). Sources for
domestic CIA operations come from Jonathan Vankin and John
Whalen’s The 60 Greatest Conspiracies of All Time (Secaucus,
N.J.: Citadel Press, 1997).
Information about CIA drug running
can be found at
4. Coleman McCarthy, "The Consequences of Covert Tactics"
Washington Post, December 13, 1987.
5. Robert Dreyfuss, "Company Spies," Mother Jones. Website:
6. Philip Agee: The Playboy Interview. Website:
7. Lara Shohet, "Intelligence, Academia and Industry," The Final
Report of the Snyder Commission, Edward Cheng and Diane C.
Snyder, eds., (Princeton Unversity: The Woodrow Wilson School of
Public and International Affairs, January 1997). Website:
9. Deborah Davis, Katharine the Great and the Washington Post,
2nd ed. (Bethesda MD: National Press, 1987)
10. "Forum for Ben Bradlee," Watergate 25. Website:
11. Lewy, Guenter, The Catholic Church and Nazi Germany (London
and New York, 1964), pp. 249-250.
12. National Catholic Reporter, Jan 89, Mar 89, Apr 89, May 89,
"Nazis, the Vatican and the CIA," Covert Action Information
Bulletin, Winter 1986, Number 25 Website:
13. Anthony Collings, "Journalists tell Senate they want no CIA
ties," CNN, July 18, 1996. Website:
14. Morton Halperin, et al, eds., The Lawless State (New York:
Penguin, 1976), p. 153.
15. Jim Hougan, Secret Agenda: Watergate, Deep Throat and the
16. Edward N. Wolff, "How the Pie is Sliced" The American
Prospect no. 22 (Summer 1995), pp. 58-64. Website:
17. Quoted in Leonard Silk and David Vogel, Ethics and Profits
(New York: Simon & Schuster, 1976), pp. 44-47.
18. Karen Rothmyer, "The man behind the mask," Salon, April 7,
19. Study conducted by National Committee for Responsive
Philanthropy, July 1997, as reported by the National Education
20. Center for Responsive Politics, Washington D.C., 1993.
22. For CIA involvement in Capital Cities/ABC, see Dennis
Mazzocco, Networks of Power (Boston: South End Press, 1994). For
CIA involvement in the PR industry, see John Stauber and Sheldon
Rampton, Toxic Sludge is Good for You! (Monroe, Maine: Common
Courage Press, 1995), pp. 49-51,153,157,160-63.
23. Jonathon Broder and Murray Waas, [Untitled] Salon, April 20,